The frontline in Eastern Ukraine near Shumi. Photo: Emil Filtenborg

Around 100,000 Russian soldiers are stationed near the Ukrainian border, and the West fears the Russian intentions. 

The US recently warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be underway, referring to a large military buildup along borders to Ukraine. The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, Kyrylo Budanov, also recently sounded the alarm and said that a Russian invasion could occur in January or February. 

“They (Russians) want to ignite riots through protests and demonstrations that would show that people are against the government,” said Budanov and added that he would expect a Russian attack to focus on several Ukrainian cities with airstrikes, artillery, armor attacks, and airborne assaults. 

Ukraine also sounded the alarms back in Spring, when Russia also moved almost 100,000 forces close to the Ukrainian border. This time, however, several experts say that it is more dangerous, where some fear that the Russian President Vladimir Putin has lost patience with the stranded peace negotiations. 

The Ukrainian Minister for Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba says that Ukraine is doing everything to avoid a war with Russia, writes Ukrinform

“Russia’s main goal is to make Ukraine as weak as possible … by destabilizing it from within, blocking Ukraine’s cooperation with other states in the area of defense. Meanwhile, the president of Ukraine sets a completely different task – to make Ukraine as strong as possible,” said Kuleba. 

“Whether he will implement the option depends on the two factors: our strength and calm of Ukrainians, as well as coordination and strength of our partners’ action,” Kuleba added.

Support from the West

Over the last two weeks, Ukraine has received much support from the West such as the promise that Britain is ready to send 600 troops to Ukraine. France and Germany also said in a joint statement that “any further attempt to undermine the territorial integrity of Ukraine would have serious consequences.”

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said recently that it would be a “serious mistake for Russia to engage in a repeat of what it did in 2014.” 

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, said that he feels confident that Ukraine will receive help in case of an invasion.

“The only thing that remains unclear is whether Putin will act on the offensive, and if so, when. However, we must be ready in any case and our partners have assured us that they will help Ukraine as much as possible,” he said, “… “It is no secret that we exchange intelligence data, so almost everyone understands what is happening.”

Russia points to Western aggression

While the West points to Russia as the aggressor, Kremlin sees the situation much differently. The Russian leadership points to Ukraine and NATO as the real aggressor, and they say that NATO is destabilizing the situation. 

“Kyiv is itself building up its forces, Kyiv is being helped to build up its forces, Kyiv is being supplied with a significant amount of weapons, including modern high-tech weapons,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, according to Al Jazeera, “The number of provocations is growing and growing significantly. What’s more, these provocations are being carried out with weapons being supplied by NATO countries.”

Peskov added that he sees the current Western concerns as propaganda. 

“This hysteria is being artificially whipped up,” he said, “…We are being accused of some kind of unusual military activity on our territory by those who have brought in their armed forces from across the ocean. That is, the United States of America.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Russian news agency Tass yesterday that Russia and the U.S. might soon meet to discuss the situation. 

“In the course of the next contact between our presidents, its time and other parameters are now being discussed, the topic of Ukraine will definitely emerge one way or another,” said Lavrov. 

The red lines

Some experts are pointing towards that Russia is seeking security guarantees and that it could be the topic of a new meeting between the Russian and U.S Presidents. At the recent meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry Board, Putin said that Russia needs to make its red lines more clear to the U.S. 

“Indeed, we constantly express our concerns about these matters and talk about red lines, but of course, we understand that our partners are peculiar in the sense that they have a very – how to put it mildly – superficial approach to our warnings about red lines. We remember well NATO’s eastward expansion… Despite the fact that relations between Russia and our Western partners… were nothing short of unique… our concerns and warnings regarding NATO’s eastward expansion have been totally ignored,” said Putin at the meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry Board.

“There have been several waves of expansion, and let’s look at where the military infrastructure of the NATO bloc is now – anti-missile defense systems have been deployed right next to our borders in Romania and Poland. These can easily be put to offensive use with the Mk-41 launchers there; replacing the software takes only minutes,” said Putin and added that it is Russias primary job now to make sure that they will avoid a conflict with the West. 

“Second, Mr. Lavrov, it is imperative to push for serious long-term guarantees that ensure Russia’s security in this area, because Russia cannot constantly be thinking about what could happen there tomorrow,” Putin added.